Though our hearts be wrapped in sorrow, from the hope of dawn we borrow, promise of a glad tomorrow…

I live near Emerson Field here in Concord.  It’s a lovely common area surrounded by pretty houses and it features an enormous flagpole that is lit at night.  Last evening was incredibly somber because though the Christmas lights were merrily shining from all the houses, the flag at the very center was at half-mast.

The grief in Newtown must be unimaginable and the initial reaction of every parent among us was surely to hold our little ones close, regardless of their age.  But the human heart is awesomely commodious and (especially in this season) “though our hearts be wrapped in sorrow” there’s always room for a little comfort and just a touch of joy.

“Ar Hyd y Nos” (All Through the Night) is a Welsh folksong sung to an old tune that was first published in 1784 by Edward Jones’ in his “Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards” with lyrics written (in Welsh) by John Ceiriog Hughes.  Since translated into many languages there are numerous versions, including the relevant one below.

“The Wassail Song” (with selected verses here) is a traditional English Christmas carol, circa 1850, and refers to the 19th Century practice of ‘wassailing’, where groups of orphans or vagabonds would dance their way through the wintry streets and offer to sing good cheer if a householder would give them a drink from his wassail bowl or even allow them to stand beside the warmth of his hearth for a few moments. The wassail bowl itself contained a hearty combination of hot ale, apples, spices and mead… “just alcoholic enough to warm tingling toes and fingers of the singers”

This short medley is found on Yo Yo Ma’s sublime 2008 album, “Songs of Joy & Peace”

 LISTEN TO THIS EARLY SELECTION – Sunday 15 December

The Wassail Song

 Here we come a-wassailing

Among the leaves so green

Here we come a-wand’ring

So fair to be seen

 Love and joy come to you

And to you your wassail too

And God bless you and send you

A Happy New Year

And God send you a Happy New Year

We are not daily beggars

That beg from door to door

But we are neighbours’ children

Whom you have seen before

 Love and joy come to you…

God bless the master of this house

Likewise the mistress too

And all the little children

That round the tables go

 Love and joy come to you…

 Good master and good mistress

While you’re sitting by the fire

Pray think of us poor children

Who are wandering in the mire

Love and joy come to you…

 

All Through the Night

 Deep the silence ’round us spreading

All through the night

Dark the path that we are treading

All through the night

Still the coming day discerning

By the hope within us burning

To the dawn our footsteps turning

All through the night

 Star of faith the dark adorning

All through the night

Leads us fearless towards the morning

All through the night

Though our hearts be wrapped in sorrow

From the hope of dawn we borrow

Promise of a glad tomorrow

All through the night

 

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